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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 December 4 - 10  > A9A in Gifu town works so townspeople’s memories of war won't be forgotten
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2019 December 4 - 10 [PEACE]

A9A in Gifu town works so townspeople’s memories of war won't be forgotten

December 8, 2019
Akahata ‘current’ column

Seventy-eight years ago today, December 8, 1941, Japan attacked Kota Baharu in the British-occupied Malay Peninsula and Pearl Harbor military base in Hawaii, declaring war on the U.S. and Britain simultaneously. Japan’s war of aggression killed more than 20 million people in other Asian nations as well as 3.1 million Japanese.

Here is an old photo of nine newly-drafted men in uniform. None of them returned alive. They were all from Kamiyahagi Town in Gifu Prefecture and the photo was taken shortly before they were sent to overseas to fight. They were unable to see each other again in their hometown.

Kamiyahagi Town (currently Ena City) is in the southeastern part of Gifu Prefecture. During the Asia-Pacific War, many men, around one in every five persons in the town, were conscripted into the military and 256 townsmen died on the battlefield. The death toll was particularly high on the southern front and the nine men in the photo died in battle on Leyte Island in the Philippines.

Ito Kazuo, a Kamiyahagi Town resident, lost his elder brother in the war. He visited the former battlefield twice where his brother was killed. While there, Ito burnt incense and picked up stones from the beach. He also washed his family’s memorial tablet with water he had brought from Kamiyahagi Town wishing that the deceased brother could drink his hometown’s water.

Testimonies of Kamiyahagi residents who survived the war, cries of sorrow of the bereaved families, and other memories of the war held by residents of the mountainous town cover almost every aspect of the war. The Article 9 Association of the town has long carried residents’ stories in its newsletter entitled “Wind of Peace” and recently compiled these stories into a booklet.

In the small town with 700-800 households, the A9A delivers the newsletter to 200 families. The sharing of bitter experiences in the newsletter encouraged residents to also speak about their wartime experience which contributed to increasing the readership. Residents who appeared in the A9A newsletter share a basic common value: they don’t want their children and grandchildren to experience war.
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